Before You Clarify Your WHY, Identify Your WHO

By Chris Olsen

If you’re a business owner who has decided to embark on the process of clarifying your WHY and communicating it in your brand story (your Whyography), be sure you’re clear on your target audience—your WHO. Not only will it help guide your day-to-day business decisions, but getting crystal clear on your target audience is an important step in creating effective communications strategies and key messages for your business.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming anything about your target audience. Take the time to do the research and talk to prospective customers directly. Use the information you gather to create a persona for your ideal customer (your IC)—someone you can clearly picture in your mind as you’re making decisions about how to position, price, promote and deliver your products and services.

Create a profile for your IC. You may have already served someone who embodies your IC. Or perhaps your IC is a combination of several people you’ve served. Maybe you have a friend or relative who perfectly represents your IC. Start by picturing that customer in your mind and consider what you know to be true about them. Include the following information in your IC profile:

  • What is your IC’s gender?
  • What is your IC’s age range?
  • What is your IC’s relationship status?
  • What is your IC’s occupation?
  • What is your IC’s income range?
  • How does your IC dress?
  • What mode of transportation does your IC use?
  • Where does your IC reside (type and location of residence)?
  • Where does your IC shop and eat (type and location of businesses)?
  • Where does your IC travel (type and location of travels)?
  • What are your IC’s interests and hobbies?
  • What social media platforms does your IC use?
  • What are your IC’s favorite websites?
  • What is the problem your IC needs you to solve for them (their pain point)?
  • If your company sells direct to consumers, what is your IC hoping to purchase from you?
  • If your company sells to other businesses, what is your IC’s business hoping to achieve by working with you?
  • What motivates your IC to purchase products or services like yours?
  • When is your IC most likely to make a purchase or invest in products or services like yours?
  • What makes your IC feel good about making a purchase or investment?
  • What are your IC’s expectations of you?
  • What do you want your IC to think about you?
  • What do you want your IC to think about your competitors?

Once you’ve answered all the questions, review how you described your IC (or ICs) and write a short summary. Include an image that represents your IC and give them a name. If you have more than one IC, create a separate profile for each. If you’ve already launched your business, take a moment to consider whether the messages and images you’re currently using are directed at your IC. As you continue developing your Whyography and communications plan, this information will help you develop key messages that are tailored to your ideal customer.

For more information about developing a communications plan for your purpose-driven business, check out my book, “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose.”

About the author: Chris Olsen is a radio veteran turned communications consultant, educator and author. Through her work as a consultant partnering with startups, Chris realized her WHY—to support womxn-owned businesses in confidently communicating their purpose and impact, setting them up for entrepreneurial success. She created My Founder Story as a platform for doing so.

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